Korg nanoKEY2 Review – Great for What it’s Supposed to Do

Korg nanoKEY2Welcome to my Korg nanoKEY2 review. The Korg nanoKEY2 is an ultra-compact USB MIDI keyboard designed for music producers with limited studio space. It features 25 velocity-sensitive pad style key, pitch up and down buttons, octave up and down buttons and octave shift up and down buttons. It also features mod and sustain buttons.

It connects to your computer using USB, which is where it also gets its power from, meaning you don’t need to plug it into its own power socket.


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Contents


PROS & CONS

Pros:

  • Compact, slim design
  • Durable
  • No latency
  • Lights on octave keys
  • Ideal for playing fast beats
  • Great for putting simple ideas into a DAW
  • Good velocity sensitivity
  • Comes with bonus plugins
  • Excellent value for money

Cons:

  • Style of keys makes it difficult to play like a normal keyboard
  • Pitch bend via button instead of wheel

Rating:  (84%)
Recommended? Yes, if you want something compact for putting in your laptop bag for making music on the move

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Video Review


As you can see, it has a very slim, simplistic design, which means it will take up very little space if you want to make music with your laptop anywhere. For the money, this is an excellent value MIDI keyboard. There is no lag time when playing, and it is very easy to set up. It even comes with some bonus plugins, which just adds even more value to the product.


Who is the Korg nanoKEY2 Designed For?

This is ideal for an electronic musician/composer/producer who wants a compact keyboard they can easily slip into a laptop bag and take with them. If you want to make music without being stuck in one room, this keyboard, a laptop and some headphones is all you need. It’s great for quickly getting beats and tunes into your DAW.

However, I wouldn’t recommend this as your only MIDI keyboard, because there will be times when you want to play in more complex passages than you can do on these unusual keys. Similarly, those who are used to playing big weighted piano keys will probably struggle with playing these keys. Also, the absence of mod and pitch bend wheels might frustrate some keyboard players.

But if you get on well with playing beats using pads, you will probably be fine with these keys.


FEATURES

Control Buttons

Korg nanoKEY2 Control ButtonsDue to the compact design Korg have opted for, there really isn’t much space for much more than just the keys. However, they have managed to squeeze in some buttons to provide some control. These are:

  • Octave up and down – able to shift up 4 octaves and down 4 octaves, extending the total range of the keyboard to 10 octaves.
  • Sustain – ideal for playing in piano parts.
  • Mod – instead of a mod wheel.
  • Pitch bend – instead of a pitch bend wheel.

Connectivity

  • USB powered – as well as USB being the way that it communicates with the computer, this is also where it gets its power from.
  • Connects to microKEY – if you want to expand the control of your nanoKEY2, you can connect it up to the [easyazon_link identifier=”B017VPNRMY” locale=”US” tag=”google02a0-20″]microKEY2[/easyazon_link]. This could be good if you want the flexibility of being able to use a standard keyboard as well as nanoKEY2’s unique style of keyboard.
  • Connects to iPad – this means you can use it to control various iPad synth apps, for example, the Korg iMS-20.

Korg Kontrol Editor SoftwareKorg Kontrol Editor software

This software can be downloaded from the Korg website for free, and can be used to edit the settings on your nanoKEY2. You can choose from four different velocity settings. There are three separate velocity curves, or you can choose fixed velocity. You can also determine the control change messages that are transmitted by the modulation and sustain buttons.


PROS & CONS IN DEPTH

Durable, compact, slim design

There are several situations where a tiny keyboard like this would come in handy. One is if you are doing live concerts and want a simple keyboard to trigger sounds live. Another one is if you want to compose music without being stuck in one room. this is how I use my MPK Mini MKII. Just yesterday I was sat in my car at a viewpoint with my laptop and my MPK, working on a new piece of music. Being able to slip something this small into a laptop bag is very useful.

No latency

One problem that you can sometimes get with equipment like this is latency. This is when there is a noticeable delay between pressing the keys on the keyboard and hearing the sounds from the computer. Luckily, with the nanoKEY2, there is no perceptible latency, which means you can hear what you are playing exactly as you play it. This brings me nicely to my next point:

Ideal for playing fast beats

Users have mentioned that the style of these keys allows for faster playing of one note than you can do with a traditional keyboard. It seems to be because they are pads they don’t travel far at all, so you can use two fingers to quickly tap out a fast rhythm on one note. Even though Korg have a dedicated controller with drum pads, the [easyazon_link identifier=”B004M8YPKM” locale=”US” tag=”google02a0-20″]nanoPAD2[/easyazon_link] , it’s like the keys on the nanoKEY2 are half way between a keyboard and drum pads; so you can use it to play drum beats as well as keyboard parts.

Great for putting simple ideas into a DAW

You don’t necessarily always want to be restricted to using a full-size MIDI keyboard. Maybe you want to be sat in your front room relaxing with your laptop and be able to tap out some melodies or beats. This is totally ideal for that kind of situation. You might even want to go round a friend’s house and work on some new ideas together. This way, you can get the main ideas down fast, then go back to your main studio and work on it in more detail.

Good velocity sensitivity

Whether or not this matters to you really depends on what style of music you are playing and how you want it to sound. For some people, they might just want everything to sound all at the same level, so they would be happy just tapping in melodies and beats all at a set velocity. That’s fine, but some people also want the option of being able to vary the intensity of individual notes to add creative expression to their playing. That’s where velocity sensitivity can really be useful.

Excellent value for money

Not everyone can afford to splash out loads of money on an expensive MIDI keyboard. Many people, when just starting out, want to just get something for a low price that will do the job. If you have a laptop and some music software, the nanoKEY2 is a very cost effective way to start playing in your own tunes and beats via MIDI. Then, when you have some spare money at a later date, you can get a larger MIDI keyboard as your main studio keyboard. But also, it is great for producers who already have a main MIDI keyboard and just want an additional portable one for slipping into a laptop bag.

Style of keys makes it difficult to play like a normal keyboard

Korg seem to have deliberately gone for something different with this particular MIDI controller. It’s not going to be for everyone, especially if you are already used to playing a traditional style keyboard. If you need to be able to play fast keyboard runs, you are going to struggle to do that with the nanoKEY2. Instead, you may want to take a look at the [easyazon_link identifier=”B017VPNRMY” locale=”US” tag=”google02a0-20″]microKEY2[/easyazon_link] instead.

Pitch bend via button instead of wheel

If you are the kind of player who likes to be able to express yourself using the pitch bend wheel, you will be disappointed here. The nanoKEY2 only has a pitch button. So if that kind of expressive playing is your style, this is perhaps not the MIDI keyboard for you.


Conclusion

The Korg nanoKEY2 is clearly excellent value for money, and if the unique pad-style keys don’t bother you, it’s an ideal choice. Whether you are looking for your first MIDI keyboard controller to get started with making your first bunch of music on your computer, or if you already have a full-size MIDI keyboard and want something compact for taking out with your laptop, you can’t really go wrong here. The price is very hard to beat. However, if you are looking for a standard style keyboard, or want pitch bend and mod wheels, this is not the keyboard you should buy. Instead, I recommend you take a look at the Akai MPK Mini MKII.

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I hope you found my Korg nanoKEY2 review helpful, but if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and I will reply as soon as I can.

All the best,
Marcus.

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